Is it possible that anywhere is more beautiful than Sweden, silly with wild flowers along the highways and hollyhocks thriving in the cobblestone streets of Lund.
I was there for my sister Monica (she was 88 on Monday — my father’s first daughter from his first marriage).
I drove from the Copenhagen airport to her wonderful house in Barsebecksham and she and I swam in the Oresund (one of the Danish straits separating Denmark and Sweden) at 11pm after her birthday dinner we prepared for 26 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — (all beautiful, all speaking English (even the six year old), all doctors, social workers, lawyers) in what still felt like daylight alongside a pair of diffident swans.
We swam again in the mornings while a little cluster of 8 year olds, one to each little sailing boat, made huge figure eights as part of their sailing school. So sweet, so blond, so consistently in crocs. Pheasants, deer, strange black birds everywhere and a little porcupine even crossed our path one night.
We saw a great Dubuffet exhibit in a museum (the only one I ever heard of) devoted to preparatory art (drawings, before paintings, models before sculpture) in Lund.
Called The Museum of Sketches it has marvelous art by Matisse, Christo, Arp, Leger, Delaunay on permanent exhibit along with a great many Scandinavian artists not so well known outside of Sweden. Created by an art history professor in the 30’s who wanted to see “the birth of art”, I was completely enthralled. It reminded me of the class I took with Rudolf Arnheim at Sarah Lawrence when he showed us all the preliminary work Picasso did when working on Guernica (his staggering assault on Franco’s facism). You could just see his ideas sharpen and focus, not just his compositions as he worked on one drawing after the other.
And, then there was the incredible gravlox Monica had prepared for my arrival and her birthday — gravlox is salmon that has been cured using sugar, salt and dill. Her salmon came from Norway (450 rivers!). She always buys a cut from the middle of the fish, has it deboned and slit open in the middle where she puts a mixture of equal parts of sugar/salt and dill/salt/white pepper. The same mixture goes on the skin top and bottom. It sits out for a couple of hours and then in the fridge for two days, being turned in the morning and at night with a weight on top. We ate it all week. I urge you to try it!
Back in East Hampton for two days, back in the ocean, quiet like a lake, with a raspberry harvest out back that won’t quit.
Ready to go to work. In love with my Gay in America book (www.gayinamerica.us) —advances arrived just before I left. It is everything I publish for.
–Lena Tabori, Publisher